Diagnosis Death

She can't remember why she's in hospital. That nurse look familiar...

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1. The beginning and end

Slowly, the blurs and smudges around the woman morphed into an unfamiliar environment. Blinding white walls and shining spotless floors, air thick and heavy with the smell of disinfectant and decay. Only one place smelled so strongly of disinfected suffering. Hospital. Panic exploded in her, a starburst of hysteria, as she hurriedly struggled to sit up. Something tight held her down, a pair of unyielding arms that would not let go. Desperate now, she bunched all her muscles but the arms that supressed her had an iron grip. Why couldn’t she move?

Her breath was coming in thick fast pants, head thrashing from side to side, hair encroaching into mouth and eyes. Confusion. Panic. Incomprehension. Pain lashed though her, a burning whip that raced across her body.

‘For God’s sake, someone help me!’  

Silence.

All around, faces in various stages of illness and disease watched with empty eyes. A slow, steady step and then a blurred outline of a nurse were sketched onto the patient’s vision. As her features became visible, the woman’s stomach jumped. It was if she had seen her somewhere before but no name, no time, no meeting came to mind. Their eyes met and the nurse gave a slow smile that didn’t reach her eyes, eyes which blazed with something unrecognizable. A recent scar lazily stretched across her otherwise perfect cheek and disappeared into the hairline.

 ‘What seems to be the problem, Mrs Harwood?’ Her voice was young and sickly sweet.

‘Why can’t I move my body?’ the lady demanded, fearing the answer. Her smile faded until her mouth was a tight line. When she spoke, there was the faintest trace of hatred.

 ‘You’re paralysed from the neck down. A few months ago, you were in an accident.’  In her bed, the woman could only stare back as she processed the news.

‘A few months. Accident?’ her voice was a hoarse whisper, her eyes wide as a deers.

‘Mrs Harwood, you need to rest,’ snapped the nurse.  ‘I’ll go and get your medication. You look like you’re in pain,’ she turned sharply on her heel and the clicking of heels on the floor faded away. The woman lay motionless on her bed, her mind reeling. What was this accident and why couldn’t she remember anything? It didn’t make sense. All she knew was that she was here, lying on sheets that were worn and coarse with use, in a place she didn’t want to be in.

The nurse returned bearing in her hands a glass of fresh water and a shiny metallic packet. Meekly the woman accepted two of the pills and gulped them down. A bitter acidic taste filled m her mouth and immediately she began retching.  Weakly, her eyes slid to the nurse and to her surprise, they bore no sympathy but were narrowed in a sly gaze. Something was wrong. Before the patient could voice discomfort, her vision started to blur and  the nurse became a small blue bob. Darkness swam up to meet Mrs Harwood and her eyes were dragged closed. Before the light completely vanished, the nurse’s face loomed into focus, her grin as macabre as the grin on a skull. Words, slow and heavy with loathing oozed out of those glossed lips and her nails became talons that priced half moons into the patient’s cheek as she held them. But to the patient who was swiftly losing her link to the outside world, only caught one phrase. ‘Why didn’t you die?’

Swiftly, the lady’s mind crossed the border to the realms of dreams and fantasy. Images began to merge and distort, faces shimmered into focus only to be wiped away before they fully formed. Piercing screams ricochet around her skull and she felt a breath of air over her dream self. An iron tang of blood seeped into her nose and she felt the hot trickle of blood down her leg. Her mind was drowning in a tapestry of sounds and the more her conscious struggled, the more the mists and fog snagged her and dragged her down.

For a few moments, she would surface triumphant from the spinning hell, only to feel a hand thrust those brittle tablets into her mouth and a hell fire burning in deep cornflower eyes. One Day after day, night after night, the woman battled these images and visions, trying desperately to make sense of them all. All the while, the nurse looked on, a cruel smile marring her face.

On the sixth day of torture, the woman once again was plunged into her nightmare world that had now become her reality. Again, she heard cries and a deafening roar. Her body shook as she felt a terrifying weight plough into her. Then, those blue, blue eyes came into her dream. She had not awoken though and now, even in her dying mind, she knew where she had seen that woman before. It was her husband’s lover. The one she had threatened to kill if the affair continued. Ironic, that the lover was the one to carry out those words. She remembered driving home, she remembered the car that came speeding towards her and now, she remembered the driver. Gasping, the woman broke free of her drugged stupor to find those loathsome eyes gazing back at her.

‘You know, don’t you?’ her words were icy cold, freezing the very heart of the victim. ‘But what you don’t know is that Tom and I are to be married.’

‘But you can’t!’ the woman rasped through her swollen throat, her gummy eyes squinting up at her torturer. ‘We’re married.’ The nurse leaned in, the scent of perfume choking Mrs Harwood.

‘Only until death do you part right?’

‘No, no!’ the trapped woman tried to scream but two familiar objects were thrown into her mouth. The bitter taste invaded her mouth, and she frantically tried to spit them out. A hand, clean and cool, tipped a cup of water into her mouth and as the pills slipped down, the nurse leant and whispered,

‘Gill Harwood. Passed away tragically in a car accident, aged twenty eight.’

 

 

 

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